|I served with large slices of grilled eggplant on the side.|
1 pound Ziti (I used Rigatoni.)
2 large firm eggplants, about 2 lbs. total
2 Tbsp. Kosher salt for salting the eggplant, plus more to taste
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 jars (25 oz. each) Lidia's Chunky Eggplant Tomato Sauce (I did not have her sauce so used a jar of Classico Tomato Basil.)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup grated Grana Padano (I used Romano.)
1 cup fresh basil, shredded
8 oz. (1 cup) fresh ricotta or packaged whole-milk ricotta
Trim the stems from the eggplants. Remove strips of peel about 1 inch wide from the eggplants, leaving about half the peel intact. (I peeled the whole eggplant.) Cut the eggplant into 1 inch cubes and toss in a large bowl with the 2 Tbsp. of Kosher salt. Dump in a colander, and let drain for about 1 hour. Rinse and drain thoroughly and pat dry.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 3 Tbsp. oil. Turn the eggplant cubes onto the baking sheet, toss to coat with oil and spread them in one layer. Bake until the eggplant is very tender and lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Turn and stir the eggplant gently once or twice during baking so they cook evenly.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat for the pasta. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Scatter in the garlic and cook shaking the pan until golden, about 3 minutes. Pour in tomato sauce, add pepper flakes, season with salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Stir the pasta into the boiling water. Return to boil, stirring frequently. When it is al dente, about 8 minutes, drain the pasta and return it to the pot over low heat. (I like to leave a small amount, about 1/4 cup, of pasta water, which mixes nicely with the sauce.) Remove the pot from the heat, stir in 1/2 of the grated cheese and the basil. Add half of the roasted eggplant and toss to combine thoroughly.
Plate the pasta and spoon the reserved sauce over each serving; then divide remaining eggplant on top of each pasta plate. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and serve.
In Sicily this dish would be served as an appetizer.
I thought a nice light dessert would follow this hearty pasta dish so made a Kiwi Sorbet. I had a few near overly-ripe kiwis, which I didn't want to throw out. Of course, I thought I was the first to make Kiwi Sorbet, but a quick internet search told me otherwise. My version is a little different, but could not be any more simple.
6 ripe kiwi's
1/4 cup simple syrup
I did not want a super sweet simple syrup since the ripe kiwi's had a nice sweetness of their own so used a 1 to 1 ratio water to sugar. Melt the sugar in the water over low heat until dissolved. That is simple syrup.
Peel the kiwi's either with a paring knife or cut in half and scoop out the fruit, which I think is easier. Blend the fruit with 1/4 cup simple syrup.
Chill the kiwi liquid for a few hours or overnight and then churn in an ice cream maker.
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